Friday, March 28, 2014

Fabrics Drive Design A/W 2014-Outdoor Apparel/Footwear

Outdoor Retailer, SLC + NYC

From a fashion perspective---we bet several successful apparel designers would admit  -that nothing 'new' is delivering  -silhouette-wise----akin to Christian Dior's breakthrough New Look-nipped in waist, full skirt to mid calf that made fashion history at his collection's debut in 1947.

What has changed big time though- and drives the more exciting breakthroughs in apparel/footwear are the fabrics+materials=innovation.

The Outdoors industry has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to adopting the latest technologies with respect to textiles-or risk being irrelevant.

So whether its to keep warm, dry, cool, weather/sun protected, go faster, stay connected or more affordable (all those down/synthetic---merino wool/synthetic blends)…the needs of customers (consumers, the military, space explorers, to name a few) are changing and lots of companies are providing solutions.


New Cool Fabrics and Warm Fabrics from Schoeller® Textil with temperature regulating schoeller® -PCM™ technology-caught our eyeballs at the most recent Outdoor Retailer tradeshow.

Aspen employees keep toasty and sweat free….
Ensuring comfort climate in clothing is critical for sporty types. Schoeller's  -PCM™ technology can be applied to city sophisticate woolen fabrics or athletic soft-shells---resulting in more heat retention when needed (the PMC™ becomes liquid, storing body heat-keeping wearer cooler…and conversely-it gets cold out-the PMC™ solidifies-relasing the heat to the wearer).

Visually---think the need to keep warmer on a chairlift up the mountain vs. need for seamless moist wicking heat release as we snowboard down the slopes. Or wearing a running jacket during a marathon-keeps one cool yet delivers warmth after one crosses the finish line-standing around afterwards, waiting for the free beer.

Another key Schoeller fabric finish -is washable and abrasion resistant- ecorepel®-water and mud repellant technology that is free of fluorocarbons and biodegradable-(unlike  bunch of DWR finishes used by the outdoor industry as Greenpeace pointed out in 2012-that got a meaningful reaction- things changing from companies mentioned).

Versatile too-ecorepel® can be applied to various fibers-wool, cotton, and synthetic fibers---including staples like denim, fleece and soft-shells.

rather creative---these imaginative prints---with WB -400-great hand feel-and takes soft shells fabrics to another level. 

Schoeller®-spirit spacer fabrics---

We got most excited by WB-400-water -windproof/breathable treated fabrics-that allows for fantastic prints, and 3D imagery. Applied to washable wools, sportswear fabrics, and combined with other Schoeller offerings like the wind/weather protective c_change™---WB-400 allows for rather eye-catching options. IMO-Pantone aside-we think performance wear is ready for some of the dazzling effects we see in the fashion industry---and winner here-Schoeller is eco minded-bluesign® certified!
Mt Borah racing suit---with Schoeller®-custom, semi-custom

Schoeller's knitted Eschler technology-A COMFORT SYSTEM warmth, protection -sweat free…. -demo model-moisture wicking inside...

RE-BRANDING is key to keeping consumers aware of how a company has evolved and grown. We mentioned the PrimaLoft® refreshed marketing initiatives for its Performance Down Blends (Gold and Silver-down and PrimaLoft microfibers)…

Another overhaul took place-and expect the new hangtags for Fall 2014 deliveries-from 37.5---the former Cocona-who has a new name to better reflect how its products keep "…the ideal microclimate" for humans-that's --so clever here…an environment with 37.5 relative humidity…and a core body temperature of 37.5ºC.

37.5's is acclaimed for its tech (patented) of active particles (coconut hard shells in the mix) permanently embedded at the fiber level for excellent moisture management that actively responds to body heat-converting liquid to vapor that increases drying time.

Applicable to just about any fabric -natural or synthetic that we can think of ---delivering faster dry times, UV protection and anti-odor capabilities.

Also offered-waterproof breathable laminates with excellent moisture management is available in 2.5 and 3.5 (!!!!) layers-that move vapor fast-keeping the wearer dry inside and out…permanently too.


insulation products with 37.5 in varying weights (40g, 60g, 100g, 160g).

Hangtags are a big deal in the outdoors industry-those can't miss pieces of thick paper help sell a product--- tells a brand's story-on apparel, footwear, gear---giving consumers a quick synapsis of what the item does-and how it performs.

It is rare in the fashion labels we cover---to see hangtags like we do in the outdoor industry. Supposedly that customer is not persuaded by what's in the mix.

Lately though-especially with sporty labels that design savvy streetwear inspired by their athletic heritage---we see hangtags. The items are selling REALLY well-particually the  collabs with fashion designers- Adidas+Stella McCarthy…

... and exclusive collabs with retail outlets-Lacoste-Urban Outfitters-joint efforts quite common in fashion but something we don't remember ever seeing in outdoor apparel beyond retail exclusives, here and there.

available now

There are separate lines -Ralph Lauren's RLX collection---or Norma Kamali's Active line----most likely made with textiles worthy of performance hangtags---but deliver without.

Delivering Fall 2014-other colors available now...
In footwear-like Lacoste -one of our admired favs for building a brand based on a winning French tennis player dude accomplishments from back in the day- NOW often uses OrthoLite footbeds-very visibly printed…and clearly value 'it' as a selling point. Rare in fashion footwear.

Amazes us how our NYC based colleagues who really know and report on fashion apparel+footwear styles from A-Z are clueless about hi-tech fabrics, finishings, laminates or treatments. 

So maybe lack of hangtags don't matter for a sale---but we think this really is a marketing opportunity.
maybe not a new silhouette-but for backcountry label Dynastar-new to us- this down skirt

stretch side panels, insulating front/back does not add bulk-two functional and eye catching zippers-this is the best down skirt  we have ever seen.